Daily Meditations

Living Prayer

Worship to me means a relationship. I used not to be a believer, then one day I discovered God and immediately he appeared to me to be the supreme value and the total meaning of life, but at the same time a person. I think that worship can mean nothing at all to someone for whom there is no object of worship.

You cannot teach worship to someone who has not got a sense of the living God; you can teach him to act as if he believed, but it will not be the spontaneous attitude which is real worship.

Therefore, what I would like to convey is my certitude in the personal reality of a God with whom a relationship can be established. Then I would ask you to treat God as a neighbour, as someone, and value this knowledge in the same terms in which he values a relationship with a brother or a friend. This, I think, is essential.

One of the reasons why communal worship or private prayer seem to be so dead or so conventional is that the act of worship, which takes place in the heart communing with God, is too often missing. Every expression, either verbal or in action, may help, but they are only expressions of what is essential, namely, a deep silence of communion.

We all know in human relationships that love and friendship are deep when we can be silent with someone. As long as we need to talk in order to keep in touch, we can safely and sadly assume that the relationship is still superficial; and so, if we want to worship God, we must first of all learn to feel happy, being silent together with him. This is an easier thing to do than one might think at first; it needs a little time, some confidence and the courage to start.

Once the Cure d’ Ars, a French saint of the eighteenth century, asked an old peasant what he was doing sitting for hours in the church, seemingly not even praying; the peasant replied: ‘I look at him, he looks at me and we are happy together.’

That man had learned to speak to God without breaking the silence of intimacy by words. If we can do that we can use any form of worship. If we try to make worship itself out of the words we use, we will get desperately tired of those words, because unless they have the depth of silence, they are shallow and tiresome.

But how inspiring words can be once they are backed by silence and are infused with the right spirit:

‘O Lord, open Thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise’ (Ps 51:15).

~ Adapted from Archbishop Anthony Bloom, Living Prayer